Sunday, July 7, 2019

Scarlet Tanager in Mulberry Tree!

Singing House Wren
After a brutally hot day yesterday and thunderstorms and heavy rains, today was beautiful at 69 degrees at 8:30 a.m.  A little hazy at first, but the sun came out and it was gorgeous.

I was greeted in the lower gardens by a very vocal house wren. He seemed happy about the change in the weather but also about his baby that was fluttering its wings and wanting to be fed.

Catbirds were singing as well as yellow warblers. I saw an Eastern phoebe in some tall brush and a hummingbird at the tippy top of the dead Tree of Heaven. Other birds included song sparrows and robins.

The meadow is in bloom with white fleabane, black-eyed Susans,
Common Milkweed
milkweed and yellow St. Johns wort. As I headed to the upper gardens, there was quite a bit of activity in the Mulberry tree. The fruit has started and the birds were very excited. There was a baby robin - still with a spotted breast, goldfinches, song sparrows, catbirds and young orioles (both male and female). Then a flash of red flew in and I assumed at first it was a cardinal. But when I finally caught it in my binoculars, it was a spectacular Scarlet Tanager. Sadly, every time I raised my camera, it disappeared. I wonder if this means it is breeding at the park. That would be so nice.

In the upper gardens were a few tree swallows, song sparrows and another hummer. A red-tailed hawk flew overhead.

Down by the soccer field were flickers, red-winged blackbirds and robins - all foraging in the grass. A couple of blue jays flew in.

The river was pretty quiet. Lots of people getting in kayaks and canoes. A perfect day for that. A flotilla of Canada geese swam leisurely down the river with their almost grown goslings.

Woodcock meadow was very quiet, save for a house wren who clearly made its presence known.
Lord Admiral Butterfly

On my way back to the parking lot was this beautiful Lord Admiral butterfly. At first its wings were flat on the ground and then every once in a while it wold raise it's wings. Maybe it just hatched and was drying out its wings. At any rate, they are absolutely stunning!

Please feel free to join us at the Friends of Nahanton Park Annual Meeting next Saturday, July 13th at 11:00 a.m. We will be located at the picnic tables outside the Nature Center and if it is raining, we will be inside. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Moonwort - A very rare fern

It was 55 degrees at 7:30 a.m. and cloudy.

Don Lubin, our local fern expert and Newton Conservators Advisor had contacted me to let me know that the rare moonwort was again blooming at Nahanton Park along Florries path.

We saw it in 2015, 2016 and 2017, but not in 2018. So it was with much excitement that I headed over this morning.

Don had given me instructions on where to find it which amounted to the most fun scavenger hunt I ever had.

On arriving at the park, I was met by two female does. They were so beautiful, but of course, quite frightened of me. I was barely able to get a photo when they both ran off with their white tails high in the air.

I went straight to the river to see if I could find the moonwort. It took me about 1/2 hour or so, but eventually the clues that Don gave me finally began to make sense and all of a sudden, there it was! It's a very strange fern that lives most of it's life underground. When it appears, it will have a couple of leaves, but is mostly an approximately 8" stalk with sporophylls and sporangia. The reproductive spores on top are not visible to the naked eye.

In the past, we have had a small cluster of moonworts, but Don had kept track of where it was on his GPS and there is a large tree down on exactly the spot where moonwort had been spotted before. We weren't sure if that would prevent the moonwort from being able to come up, but luckily, this specimen appeared recently.

We are thankful to Don for having discovered this rare treat at Nahanton Park.

Late migrants and more

An early morning walk through Nahanton Park last Friday was quite productive -- 45 species of birds, including this Magnolia Warbler in trees along the Woodcock Meadow --

and this female Chestnut-sided Warbler, at the soccer field traffic circle. 
These birds were camera shy, but not as shy as the Black-billed Cuckoo seen briefly at Woodcock Meadow, or the Willow Flycatcher heard in the wet woods west of of the Upper Gardens.

A Scarlet Tanager was present, as well as Rose-breasted Grosbeak -- though I heard just one grosbeak, strangely enough.

The Tree Swallow population seemed to have recovered somewhat from the devastating wet weather earlier in the month. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Lady Slipper Time

Lady Slipper
It was 62 degrees at 8:30 a.m. Comfortable and clear.

People used to tell me that lady slippers bloomed around Memorial day, and that may have been true, but with climate change it has been  moving up, so I was hoping to see some today and to my great excitement, there they were!

I found three in full bloom and one with a flower, but it hadn't turned pink yet. Also saw two plants with foliage only - so a total of 6! Not bad...

The lower gardens had our nesting tree swallows and a house wren, so all houses are spoken for.

Plenty of robins, yellow warblers, goldfinches, catbirds, song sparrows, orioles and a crow being chased by angry birds.

Male Oriole above nest
The orioles have built a nest in the same tree, same spot as they have the last few years. It's quite amazing. Guess they really like it there.

Mr. Oriole gave away the location as he quietly kept an eye on the nest. They arrive and in the blink of an eye, breeding is in full swing!

Ran into Alison and she and a friend had seen a bay-breasted warbler in the upper gardens. Sadly, I wasn't able to see it by the time I got up there. A common merganser flew overhead.

Tree swallow
The upper gardens had much the same with the addition of house finches, chickadees, cardinals and ughhh house sparrows.

I took the path at the back of the upper gardens down to the river for a change. Heard warbling vireos and common yellowthroats. Saw a Canada goose couple with their 2 young goslings strolling down the river.

I started up the path by the Nature Center to get to woodcock meadow when a pair of Carolina wrens caught my eye.

I hear them, but rarely see them, so I was surprised. They were both on top of a storage container next to the building which I thought odd. The next thing I knew, one took off into a broken light fixture attached to the building.

Carolina Wren in broken light fixture
They say that Carolina wrens will nest in the strangest places including old boots etc. and I believe that is what was happening. They seemed very excited and intrigued with the idea that this could be a great nesting spot!

Walked along the JCC path to the parking lot where I saw the Lady Slippers and also heard the sound of Peewees calling. They're back!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Not a Downy

Nice morning at Nahanton Park. I met up with Suzette (who reported a Hermit thrush from the lower garden and a Warbling Vireo from the river!). There was this Northern Mockingbird at the lower garden
 and a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the woods adjacent to it.
We found a Ruby-crowned Kinglet along Florrie's Path, along with a Palm Warlber,
and this male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at the JCC, along with a singing Pine Warbler.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

early birds

Spring really is coming. Some day. There were a few Tree Swallows around this morning. Of course the Woodcock have been displaying in the upper field in the evenings. I did not detect Pine Warblers in the JCC pine grove.

The most fun was the Brown Creeper systematically exploring the trees near the parking lots off Winchester St. I have found this bird there more regularly than anywhere else in the park. This is a very hard bird to photograph.